tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 8, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
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russian oligarch in $7,000 of payments. this development is raising a number of questions, where did all that money go? what'd that company get in return for payments of anything? and why were funds directed to shell company? a shell company set up to pay hush money to a porn star. at the same time, michael avenatti, the lawyer for stormy daniels alleged cohen received $500,000 linked to the oligarch of the election. the first elections coming in after the first multi-primary election, voter in virginia, ohio, north carolina, casting their ballots. what would the results of the midterm elections be? what does that mean for that? i want to bring in cnn exclusive report and talking about that
now. shimon and reporter scan al who broke this story. we probably need to be taking notes at home. shimon i'll start with you. what can you tell us about this? >> yeah, hey don. mueller investigation has questioned a runner oligarch. they questioned about hundred of thousand of dollars made to michael cohen in 2011. the payment went from vekselberg, a firm linked to vekselberg called columbus nova, a financial company out of new york. it's run by vekselberg american andrew trader. michael avenatti posted documents where he alleged that a half million dollars was paid
to cohen beginning in january of 2011. last month, back to where viktor vekselberg gets into this, trump administration placed him on sanctions for the russian internal revenue service. now as to what the payments were that related to cohen and the company is unknown. we've reached out to cohen and vekselberg and both have not responded to our questions. what's significant here as you pointed out is you have money coming from a u.s. company that is linked to this russian man who has been sanctioned who the u.s. government says interfered in our election that was going to michael cohen, certainly lead to all potential questions that now we know the fbi and u.s. investigator are asking. >> and he's being interviewed by the special counsel right?
>> as far as we know he's being interviewed by the fbi investigations associated with the special counsel. >> carroll let me bring you in. what more do we know about vekselberg and what does the fbi want to know from him? >> he's very close to putin, he spend $100 million to bring eggs bag to russia. vekselberg is one of the two oligarch that we stopped. we've also learned is that vehicle kel berg was questioned being payments his cousin entered the trader, the head of that company, he was asked about political donations he made. he made $300 to the trump victory fun, and rnc in 2017. that i have interviewed in
trader himself. columbus nova did not give us a statement before the story but have since given us one. i'd like to read a bit from it tonight in which they say that -- >> it's okay. >> yeah. it's a little bit of a longer statement. they told us after the inauguration firm hired michael cohen as a business consultant. report today that viktor vekselberg used columbus nova false and neither vekselberg or its owners were involved in hiring cohen nor for his investment. they're confirming therm hired by cohen and hired for services. that doesn't change that vekselberg was asking questions about these statements. >> this is the statement from erick the general counsel of columbus nova.
as a general counsel i can confirm the company is 100% owned and controlled by americans. any suggestions that at any point and time viktor vekselberg or his clients own a part of columbus nova is untrue. what do you say to that? >> we show a filing that there was history that link them in the past. like i said, this is something mueller's team is looking at. they're going to follow the money and look at these flows. and they question vekselberg about this connection. >> both of us having read those statements, shimon, do we know if there was anything illegal about these payments? >> no we don't. but this is something that the special counsel, that fbi is looking into. as we've reported, they were looking, the fbi was looking at whether or not money was flowing into the trump world, into the trump orbit through u.s. officials from russians. whether or not they were using
russians, that is using persons to try and hide perhaps, money that was going into the trump world. that we have reported on. and also it's important to know that no one is really from the company at this point is explaining this columbus nova as to what these payments were about. they're arguing that perhaps, vekselberg is not the direct owner, he has no say. up to this point, they haven't explained -- neither have anyone from cohen side -- where this money was going or what was the purpose of the money going into essentially a hush account set up by michael kcohen to pay hus money to stormy daniels. still no explanation for that. >> where does things stand, kara with the criminal investigation of the southern district of new york? >> we know prosecutors there are looking into cohen's dealings. a judge in that case has set up a master to review documents seized in cohen's office and
hotel room. the judge has this special master looking for what might be privileged and those documents that may be covered by attorney/client privilege. so fbi has a team in place helping to produce these documents to cohen. they produced eight documents in digitized documents and a dozen cell phone and electronic devices. we're expecting but the end of this week the judge says they expect to have the government provide all the documents seized and there's a hearing set for two weeks for now so get a ber sense of how big a volume this is. michael koe one said in court he has three clients that can be covered. president trump, sean hannity. >> thank you, kara. i appreciate it. i want to bring in now dana bash and david chalon. good evening to both of you. so, david i want to get your reaction to tonight's breaking
story that a russian oligarch by a huge payment made to -- after the election. this is explosive reporting. >> without a doubt. t not welcome news for cohen clearly. and it's not welcome news for the president's legal team here. let's just acknowledge what it is at its very base. we are now seeing reporting of some russian money making its way in some form or another to the person who is identified as donald trump's fixer, one of his closest con if i dans and who the president was just touting as his attorney less than a month ago stanning on air force one. >> dana what's your thoughts? who do you think we're going to hear from the president on any of this? >> not clear. as his lawyer sighs it he's focusing where he should be, on north korea and iran. last time we heard that, the
president sent out four tweets about the russia investigation the next morning. t hard to imagine the president sitting on his hands when it is as david just said, about as close as we've seen to -- not a collusion agricultural allegation, but a russia oligarch, someone he's incredibly powerful, funneling a lot of money into the account of his lawyer, the same account used to pay stormy daniels. those are big open questions. how that happen, why that happen, why the money came in as shimon and kara were saying, that we don't know the answer to. and it's also noteworthy that the president and rudy gil yawn, they've been so aggressive with rudy giuliani out in front over past couple of weeks. giuliani feels they're more on
the offense. whether this putting him back on his heels, another thing we have to wait and see. >> i want to underscore something dana said which i think is key. it's the con verge, inner section now of the stormy daniels story as well as the russian investigation. the mueller team re -- we're now seeing those streams crossing and intersecting in the way we have not before. >> yeah. i want to read this again because this is what columbus nova is saying. david i want to give this to you because you said this is the first time we've seen russian money coming into play. as a general counsel of nova i can 100% confirm the company is owned and operated by americans. any time that vekselberg owned any part of nova is untrue.
that is important to them they want to make sure everyone understand it's not russian owned. >> as that should be noted. it's russian affiliated financing that we're talking about that now has made it into somehow whether through total wholly american owned company into michael cohen's bank account, a bank account used to pay stormy daniels. >> and the key to remember is what kara and submhimon are reporting that they have from their sours that vekselberg isn't just this outside person who was sanctioned as one of the 13 russian sanctioned in and around the election meddling, but also he has been interviewed by the investigators working for robert mueller. that is another sbrek, probably the biggest one. >> okay. i need to turn now to -- we have
more news to talk about if you can believe it or not. west virginia, don blankenship talking about being trumpier than trump, i think voters are listening to him because blankenship is succeeding that succeed conceding that he's lost. >> he's conceded the race. not only that but in his concession noted exactly what you were saying about president trump's ininvolvement, clearly saying that it had some impact on the race as he's conceding it. the president's going to claim some credit here no doubt, we know he loves to do so when proven right about something and here he urged folks not to vote for blankenship. the establishment was so concerned this will just be handed a seat that should be winnable because the president won west virginia by 42 points in 2016, just handing it to the democrats. that's mott the case now. huge sigh of relief.
president trump will get a pat on the back for the unlikely allies here, the republican establishment. >> it's probably a good idea the guy who called mitch mcconnell, mitch, and referred to his family as china people, the client family did not win tonight. dana what does tonight's outcome say to twashington barba establishment? >> the republican leadership here in washington are breathing a huge sigh of relief about what happened in wfr. and another important primary race we were looking at, there is a trump-like candidate who won because he's got money and spend it. he beat two people who are elected officials. in that case -- >> and outsider businessmen. >> exactly. the outsider businessmen beat
the insiders. that is consistent with the trump model. that is another state where there is a very vulnerable incumbent democrat, joe donnelly, and president trump didn't win as big west virginia but pretty big. >> thank you, dana and david. dana get some water please. just ahead, mbt mueller investigators have questioned the russian oligarch about payments a firm linked to him. we'll be right back. we do whatever it takes to fight cancer.
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they're like a friend of the family. we are the cochran family, and we'll be usaa members for life. save by bundling usaa home and auto insurance. get a quote today. here's breaking news, a cnn exclusive, a source says roberto mueller has questioned a russian oligarch about payments linked to him paid by mine cohen. as a general counsel of columbus nova i can confirm the company is 1200% owned and rolled by americans. any time at any point viktor vex sell berg or any of these companies owned or exercised any control over columbus nova is pa tenially untrue. i want to bring in jack quinn. analyst philip muddy and julia
murphy a staff writer. julia i want to get your opinion and put this into context. what does this all mean if anything to mueller? >> well, to me at least it smells and looks and sounds like the russia i know, which is, you know a lot of dark money slashed around really strange dark companies. it's more of the follow the money corruption story, more than it was tloat least in the first phase. payments under the table is a lot more like the russia i know. what's interesting about vekselberg, he was sanctioned and i remember wourning why he was put on the sank list. now we know why. it seems like he was even after the i naug right funneling money to this juan known llc how the
president's lawyer had. how would he have known about it? what was that money for? i talked this evening to a source close to the trump world. and i said, what was that money for. and he said for access, of course what else? >> but there's no proof or indication at this point, phill, that any of those payments were illegal. seems now to be just information that wasn't previously disclosed, do you disagree with that? >> i don't disagree but i do agree with julia, it's a rare moment i have to line up. let me ask you a couple questions as someone who has involved in the investigation. we know what happened, money changed hands. we know where and when it happened. we miss the why. the why as you're saying is an open question. to me, the real question behind the scenes is to who. we keep talking about mueller's team talking to these
individuals. the mueller team was so concerned about these russians coming into new york that they mirrored their digital information. otherwise they took presumably their phone, maybe their laptop and took the digital information off of that. that's very intrusive. you don't do that unless you have probable cause to believe there is something massive going in there. when they took somebody's phone and looked in that phone, did it show contact with other members of the trump team that would explain why these guys showed up at the ig inauguration. i want to know the who, the why we may never know. >> we're talking about a shell company set up to pay stormy daniels, but were later paid into by several corporations. jack, what is your thinking on that? >> i have to think the way phill does, the who and the why. to me, the why is a lot easier. this is michael cohen, a guy whose legal skills have been cast in some considerable doubt
reasonable. why would somebody be paying him, anybody, an american company, somebody from russia, they're paying him for access to the president. they're paying him for information that will help them influence the united states policy on things like sanctions, iran and other things in which they have a big big stake. i don't think there's any doubt about that. i'm not here saying any of this is illegal at this moment. it is very confusing. but as confused as many of us may be, you can be sure rob mueller and his team are not so confused. i think that, you're going to see a lot of people -- if this is legal calling for reform of the foreign agents registration act, provisions that allow things like this to happen. >> you're leading me to my next question. again, there's no indication at this point that there's anything illegal about this. if the -- is it unusual to pay
consulting firm or what have you, or a person who has access and a person who is in power, the president's ear to get information about him or how he operates. especially because if he has no political past? >> it is not unusual to have political consultants who do that sort of thing. it's probably pretty darn unusual to be paying a president's personal attorney, who is not in the public policy business, in a lobbying firm or a law if you remember that does this sort of thing. this money was in an account, apparently, from which payments went to help resolve -- >> lie detector lie detectc set weeks before the stormy daniels case -- >> right. >> it was settled also -- >> may i jump in here for a second? >> hang on julie. finish your thought please.
>> this raises so many red flags and they need to be run to the ground as quickly as possible. >> go ahead julia. >> aside from the question of whether or not t legal or unusual. the question is how it looks and plays out considerable even outside of the trump base. i keep thinking back to donald trump's 2016 campaign in the way he went after hillary clinton and the clinton foundation. you remember the three words he used to talk about that, pay to play. this looks like pay to play. it looked a lot more direct that be trump and his surrogates were accusing the clinton foundation of. even if that stuffive not illegal or unusual, people didn't like hearing about it. everyone stay with me. when we come back i want to dig into what else we know about this russian oligarch that russian mueller has questioned about the payments an investment
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counsel questioned an oligarch being hundreds of thousands of dollars that an investment firm linked to him paid michael cohen. back with me jack quinn, phill mud and julie. phill, let me ask you a question, this russian oligarch vekselberg denied any payments but he attended the dinner in moscow rt, the state control t.v. channel, that's according to msnbc news. and michael flynn was also there, flynn is cooperating with the mueller investigation. do you think that this is a connection? >> i do. let me give you a simple explanations why. as we discussed earlier, none of us knows whether anything illegal happened here. the real question is, is this worth investigating, yes. what happened between the trump campaign and the russians before the length. we know this -- pardon me --
after the election and before. we know this because michael flynn resigned for this. what would a russia businessman want from the trump campaign? let me give you one guess, don, sanctions relief. here's the bottom line question, was there money changing hands between russian or russian backed entities between the trump campaign because people wanted to gain influence to support the trump campaign in an effort to relieve sanctions. that's a simple question you'd have if you were special counsel mueller. >> julia you're shaking your head. >> i am because michael flynn was trying to lift sanctions in the wink of an eye that he was national security adviser. he was working very hard to union laterally lift the sanctions that barack obama had imposed a month -- less than a month before leaving office in december of 2016.
that did not come to pass. from what i heard, there were, you know flynn deputies working to do that a couple days after flynn was fired. it was a kind of chicken running around without its head before it fell down. i'm sorry for that image. >> that's exactly what we needed. so, listen, when we talk about the different investigation avenues for the mueller investigation. there was obstruction of justice, collusion and on and on that can be follow the money right. this is a point where i think a lot of that may intersect. the big question everyone is asking is is the president going to be questioned by mueller owner. does this affect that at all, you think? >> it has to affect that. it must ratchet up the questions mueller may feel to get some answers to these questions. let me remind you, we have not
seen indictments in connection with the hacking of the democratic e-mails. a critical part of that episode is whether there were any americans involved. was there a quid pro quo between anyone involved in the campaign to be symptom thet ik to push for sanctions relief, for example, in return for a systems in getting those e-mails out, we don't know that. but, things like that are really, bob mueller really needs to run those to ground. >> the concern level, phill, for the president, some say he should be concerned about stormy daniels and this home office and holy, what do you think the president's concern level should be with this? >> i don't think he'll be connected with russian melding. i don't think he'll ever be
charged -- there's constitutional issues obviously by the special counsel. i think there is one issue as i look at this, this is my own bias, don. that is dirty money. you look at dirty money in the trump family, the son-in-law, the season, you look at people whose already been indicted for dirty money, i'd be concerned that it gets closer to the white house that they don't involve russian election meddling in the elections but they do involve dirty money that's connected with the family, then the president has a tough decision, that is what to do about the family. >> listen, julia, we know the president was upset about that raid on michael cohen's house, office and hotel room and he's particularly worried about financial matters in michael cohen's businesses and on and on and on. is there more to emerge, you think here? >> absolutely. one of the thing we still don't know about, and i think rob mueller with his subpoena super
power, will be able to get to the bottom more easily than a bunch of reporters because the stuff is hard. how is donald trump able to finance a lot of his business after banks cut him off? how he went interrupt and declared bankruptcy several times. how is he able to finance these projects? will russians, which i think they were, using hip as a laundry mat? where i think a lot more of that -- i think, you know to quote senator john mccain, i think this is a senter proceed or maybe -- >> jack, you wanted to weigh in? >> i'm inclined to agree with phill as things stand right now, tefrd is not there, the president's voch preside president's involvement in this. the idea of shutting down this
investigation any time soon without getting all the an answers every way in which that happen is just beyond the pail. >> thank everyone i aappreciate it. a russian oligarch questioned about payments. a firm linked to him made to michael cohen. how bad can this be for his client, president trump? the lincoln mkx, more horsepower than the lexus rx350 and a quiet interior from which to admire them. the lincoln spring sales event is here. for a limited time get 0% apr on the lincoln mkx. plus get $1000 bonus cash.
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. here's breaking news, a cnn exclusive. special counsel questioning a russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars of u.s. investment firm linked to him paid michael cohen after the election. what does this mean for president trump if anything? let's discuss. david is here as a former senior adviser to president obama. or he's not but dan fiver is. and steve cortez. all cnn political commentators. welcome to the program. we get east coast, west coast and central all represented on this panel. david, you first. michael cohen reportedly
received approximately $500,000 from a u.s. company linged to a russian oligarch, viktor vekselberg. what do you make of this? >> michael cohen hadn't been charged or indicted yet and nothing reported provers that the president or people close to him did anything illegal. but -- >> or michael cohen. >> right. but we're at a situation now where if you look at this reporting you've got to come to this cheollection that this narrative the white house has been pushing that there's nothing to see here, this investigation is a witch hunt, let's move on, no russians near the president's circle. that is going stretched thinner and thinner and getting harder and harder to take by day when you have a russian ole gash. 's american company who runs a russian company ae filmed with his russian company giving money
to michael cohen's side company, which is the same company that we understand was used as sort of a slush fund to pay a fee to storm damages for the nba, your viewers know the rest of the story. it's incredible. >> dan, i know you want to weigh in here. this is the u.s. company, columbus nova llc released a statement saying as a general counsel of columbus nova i confirm that at any point and time viktor vekselberg or any of his company owned any part of columbus nova is untrue. how important is this? >> well, i don't know the dynamics of that statement or what it means. we don't know what crimes were committed, who commitmented them, that is bob mueller's job to figure out. what we do know is that donald
trump, michael cohen, trump and michael cohen's spokespeople have been lying to the american people about this for a long time, so they're trying to hide something. it is gone to be incumbent on mueller to figure out what that is and whether it's criminal activity charged in a court. >> vekselbergee cousin was a donor to the don donor to the rnc and the national committee, do you have any concerns about this at all? >> no, i don't at least yet. by the way, he's an american. when we talk about his cousin. last i checked, being of russian decent in and of itself is not a crime. i think michael cohen are going to answer these questions. what is not legitimate in my
view is to say that because they paid -- by the way, if we were to accept this story as true, and nbc for example reported falsely already on michael cohen that he was being wiretapped. >> and they corrected it. >> okay, but they reported a non-true story and it can be connected to connected tomorrow. let's say if this true and they try to buy influence, guess what they wasted their time because they got nothing. they got sanctions instead on this very oligarch and his company. they got the yukraine armed and the united states attacking syria. if this was an attempt by russia to buy influence on the president it failed miserably and it was a giant waist of money. >> here's the question, you said michael cohen has to answer --
had some questions to answer, right, did you not see that steve? he should answer some questions? >> right. i believe he does. >> what questions what you have for him? >> what were these payments for. again if it happened -- and i'm not accepting a narrative yet. if the reports are true what is it that you paid to have a half million dollars for? the idea of that if -- lest just say if the supposition is true that the russians were trying to by russian influence via american cousin, if that's true, guess what they didn't fbuy wha they thought they were buying. the idea that he's putin's puppet is just an absolute she raid. >> steve, the company has issued statements confirming or denying some of the thing, or explaining it, i should say.
there's no if any of this is true. the company's issued statements explaining this. so, just for the sake of accuracy, again, what questions what you have for michael cohen? >> i'd say this, what did at&t pay you for? the workman's co the swamp is deep -- >> that's one question what's the other? >> that's one question. if at&t and if russia thought they were buying influence with the president, guess what, they didn't. this is a president who can't be bought. he's our first ever citizen president with no government experience who has no -- >> steve i'm not trying to cut you off, i think you're making good points that's why i want to stick to that. i would like to know, because i think people sitting at home would like to know. what questions -- because it's a good point -- >> again i would ask him what
was this company? and it's not really a russian company but a russia realized company. what was it? what services were they buy requesting what services were at&t buying? i think those are le ggitimate questions for michael to answer. dan, i'm going to keep you guys around because dan didn't get to talk that much this time. stick with me everyone. three americans detained in north korea, they may be on their way home shortly. more on that next.
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vekselberg. david, what did you want to say? >> i was just going to say, i'd like to ask michael cohen and have him answer the question, what is the purpose of essential consultants? steve made the point before the break that, you know, yes, we live in a world where companies and entities and various individuals try and buy influence with the government wlach what's less common is entities connected to russia making large payments to a company that also is allegedly the same company that pays off the alleged
mistresses of the president of the united states. that is not typical swamp stuff even by, you know, 2018 standards. >> wait a second. >> hang on. i wonder if this answers your question. hold on, steve. i'll let you answer next. i wonder if this answers your question from the previous statement from attorney richard owens. he says that -- the firm hired michael cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures. >> steve? >> i'm sorry. i didn't know this was for me. yes, that's very possible. michael joe enmay have legitimate answers to these questions. but when you bring up the point or when the point is brought up that, you know, this is irregular, you know what? it's interesting. this $500,000 amount is what bill clinton was paid by a russian company to give one speech in moscow for which he was thanked by putin.
so please spare me the righteous indignation that we have never seen the russians try to influence american politics before. i'm not excusing by the way if michael cohen was trying to sell influence, number one, he failed. it didn't influence trump. if he was, it was wrong. it is equally wrong for the way the clintons did it. they did it to a level that would make, listen, i'm from chicago. it would make a chicago man blush the level of corruption. >> i will let you handle that. >> one thing we should know, bill clinton is definitely not president. >> he's not? >> no. >> definitely not president. >> is barack obama president or hillary clinton? are they president? >> we have one president. his name is donald trump. and let's take a step back from michael cohen's corporation, shell corporation, right? which is interesting that he created it for this purpose. but is when it comes to trump and russia, you have maybe nothing awry happening here but you have to look at the facts. so trump's son, son-in-law and
campaign manager met with agents from the russian government. at least two trump advisors are reportedly knew about the hacks into the dnc and the e-mails in advance. trump ran a cash heavy real estate business which his son eric said is where they get their money from the russians. you have michael flynn, you know, r.t. man of the year. you have paul man for the happens to be a long time adviser to russian oligarchs and then you have the rnc passing the most pro putin platform in the party history. so you take all of that. maybe all of those things are coincidences. maybe. maybe they're just smoke. >> what has trump done as president? >> let him finish. >> maybe they have smoke.
but there maybe has never been this much smoke with no fire in the history of the world. >> okay. and to answer your question, missiles raining down upon syria near russian jets. this man -- the president has been anything but -- >> one at a time please. dan, finish your point. >> the point here is the ties between trump, his aides, his advisors, his family and the russians are incredibly deep. we know the russians intervened in the election with the expressed purpose of helping donald trump. in office, donald trump has done some things tough on russia. he's done other things where he refused to implement other certain sanctions when he kicked out russian intelligence agencies over in response to the poisoning of london. he then said they could just bring them back right after that. so the record is mixed here. and i think to try to pin this down as some russian oligarch buying access through michael cohen is to miss the forest
through the trees. >> i know you want to respond. i have to get to the top of the hour, please. >> listen, i met a lot of voters in michigan and wisconsin who topped this election. none of them were russian. they didn't care about russia. russia didn't tip this election for donald trump. the american people did. >> that's not what we're talking about. one does not -- >> doesn't mean they didn't try. doesn't mean the chinese didn't try. doesn't mean a lot of people didn't try. >> thank you all. i appreciate it. when we come back, michael is here. stormy daniels' attorney to talk about all this breaking news. ♪ ♪ ♪ raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ♪ ♪ bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens ♪ ♪ brown paper packages tied up with strings ♪ ♪ these are a few of my favorite things ♪ ♪ ♪
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